My Best & Worst Purchases: Spring-Summer 2021

Now that we’re nearing the end of the season, I rounded up my best and worst purchases from spring-summer 2021. I often do a post like this at the end of the year, but I end up focusing more on fall-winter just because of the timing, so I thought I’d do one for spring-summer as well.

My 10 Best Purchases of Spring/Summer 2021

These are things that I purchased this year and have used a ton. The cost per wear on each of these items is low, even if the price tag is high. If you snagged some of these, let me know how they worked for you!

#1. LOFT Linen Dolman Tee // I find myself reaching for this top several times a week because it’s such a nice summer basic. The linen fabric is lightweight and breathable, and the relaxed fit and easy drape makes it flattering and effortlessly chic. Plus black goes so well with all the denim, white, and olive pants in my closet. This tee was restocked earlier in the week, but promptly sold out again. It does come in other colors, but it’s very thin, so the lighter tones might be see-through. The black is fine, but it really needs a black bra. I wasn’t wearing one in the picture above, but I always do now.

#2. Mother The Insider Cropped Step Hem Jeans in Dancing On Coals // I was hesitant about these when I first got them, but I knew I loved the fit and wash and the distressed details. As it turns out, they’ve easily been the most-worn bottoms in my spring/summer wardrobe. Besides being uber casual and fashion-forward, they’re supremely comfortable. I like these so much that I have them in white and black and this light denim wash, but this pair is by far the softest. For some reason, the fabric content is slightly different than the other pairs. These are true to size, or size down if in between.

#3. Dolce Vita Izabel Slides // If the Mother Insiders are my most-worn bottoms this summer, these sandals are my most-worn shoes. They seem to go with everything, and I love the way the shiny studs add a little bit of bling to an outfit without being too precious. These are true to size, or size up if in between. I usually size down to a 7.5 in slides, but I have these in my regular size 8. They also come in other colors, but I particularly like this Cafe color because it’s very close to my skin tone, which is elongating and slimming.

#4. Wit & Wisdom Ab-Solution Denim Shorts // I’m cheating because I actually purchased these LAST summer, but I’ve worn them so much this year, and they’re still available, that I thought they deserve a mention. I find most shorts very uncomfortable, unless they’re baggy and then they’re not very flattering. These are both flattering and comfortable. Win-Win! These shorts run true to size, or you may want to size down if in between. I have my usual size 6.

#5. Mother The Insider Crop Step Fray Flared Jeans in Fairest Of Them All // These are the same jeans as #1 except in white. I saw a woman wearing these in the Philly airport on our way to Florida last April, and I thought they looked so good on her, I decided to seek out a pair for myself. I really like them as an alternative to the white skinnies I’ve been wearing for years. They seem fresh and summery and casual, with the crop flare silhouette and the raw step hem, and I find myself wearing them a couple times a week. I would say they’re true to size, but they’re definitely snug, and I often wonder if I should have tried the next size up. All that to say, if ordering, you may want to try two sizes.

#6. Banana Republic Dolman Top // This top has come in so handy this summer. I wear it to church every few weeks, but I’ve also worn it to a funeral visitation as well as to a court hearing with one of my kids when I wanted to look conservative and professional. I can also bling it up for a date night if I want, so it’s highly versatile. As I mentioned yesterday, olive green is trending for fall, so I can see myself wearing this with sweaters and jackets on top until it gets too cold. It’s true to size.

#7. Canyon Raw Edge Tank // On the other end of the formality spectrum, this slub cotton tie dye tank with the raw edge detail is really fun for super casual summer looks. It has a slightly boho vibe, without being too hippy dippy trippy, so it pairs really well with jean shorts or distressed blue jeans. I find myself reaching for it when I want to look casual, cool, and comfortable. It’s true to size, or you could size up for a little more length.

#8. Dolce Vita Lester Slides // These were an unexpected win in my summer wardrobe! I picked them out to go with a specific outfit when I was doing a collaboration with Evereve, and I was surprised by how versatile they are. I find myself reaching for them several days a week — almost every time there is black in my outfit. They’re super casual, of course, but so am I, so I get a lot of wear out of them. Plus, since they’re so affordable, my cost per wear is mere pennies at this point. They’re true to size.

#9. Reverie Scoop Dress // This dress is also from a collaboration with Evereve. I use it mostly as a swimsuit coverup, but since I spend a lot of time by the pool, that means that I wear it a lot. It has pretty much replaced all my other coverups. I feel like it’s elevated but casual and appropriate for poolside living. I usually wear it with the Dolce Vita Lester slides. It’s true to size, I have the small.

#10. Treasure & Bond Twist Detail T-Shirt // This is such an easy, comfortable t-shirt, and yet the twist detail and the cuffed sleeves take it up a notch or two. Because it’s grey, it’s super versatile. I wear it a lot with blue jeans and white jeans and blue and white denim shorts, and also my olive utility pants. It’s also really cute under my yellow denim jacket

Okay, so that’s it for best purchases, although really, there are so many more I could have added. I didn’t even touch on accessories, but I wanted to cap it at 10. Moving on to worst purchases!

This is the section people always find most interesting. I find it helpful because I was drawn to each of these items for one reason or another, so hopefully I can learn from these purchases and make better buying decisions going forward.

My 5 Worst Purchases of Spring/Summer 2021

Before we get started, my standard caveat still applies: These items aren’t bad, and most are things I actually like. I just didn’t end up wearing or using them all that much, and I regret these purchases because I did NOT get a good cost per wear out of them. Please don’t feel duped if you bought any of these off of my recommendation. They might work great for you; they just didn’t work for me.

I often get asked about what I do with the clothes that I pass on. I return unworn items, but the rest either go to friends and family or to a resale shop. My theory is, I’d rather have someone else enjoy them than let them clutter up my closet until they’re out of style. Because I do buy new clothes so regularly, it just doesn’t’ make sense to hold onto things I’m not wearing. Okay, let’s get started!

#1. Madewell Eyelet Ruffle Strap Top // I really like this top. In fact, I took it to Maine, planning to wear it for the 4th of July… But alas, our party was rained out, and it was a high of about 55 degrees that day, so I wore a long sleeve sweater instead.

Beyond that, I just haven’t found another opportunity to wear it. This top is a little outside of my comfort zone, so I really need just the right venue and occasion. I might hold onto it for next year, but even if I wear it once or twice before I decide to part with it, that doesn’t really justify the price tag. I do think I got it on sale… at least, I hope I did!

#2. Stuart Weitzman Sierra Woven Leather Flat Sandals // I think this is the saddest of my spring-summer purchases. I love, love, LOVE these sandals; and I really thought I’d wear them a lot. But i wore them once or twice, for short periods of time, and I quickly realized they just don’t stay on my feet. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that before I wore them out of the house; I think I was in denial because I liked them so much.

I figured they’d be okay — sort of like the Frame flip-flops from the #NSale, although I can actually wear those as long as I’m not doing too much walking. I did wear those around the house for a while to be sure, given that I had just sadly parted with these SW sandals. Both are beautiful sandals and excellent quality, but the footbeds are stiff and heavy, and the straps are just a little too wide for my flat, bony feet. I guess the Frame pair works because the strap is lower on the foot, closer to the ankle. All that to say, these went to a better home, to someone can actually use and enjoy them.

#3. Rag & Bone Cate Mid-Rise Ankle Skinny Raw-Hem Jeans // This was definitely not a smart purchase. I knew when I bought these jeans that I was moving away from skinnies, but I thought I wanted a light wash pair, and I really like the chewed hem. Plus, they were on sale, so there’s that. But every time I went to wear them, I ended up changing into something else, so I finally decided it was time to part with them.

I may regret it, come fall… I dunno. Sometimes I get rid of things I’m not wearing, and when the season changes, I realize they would have worked for me. I could have put these in my “maybe” bin, but I decided to let someone else enjoy them while they’re still in style. Oh, also, the 9″ inseam is no longer comfortable to me. I just remembered, that’s the other reason I decided to give them away and not keep for fall.

Isn’t it funny how 9″ used to feel like high rise, and now it feels low? Maybe it’s my mid-life middle getting more in the way, I don’t know, but I much prefer jeans with a 10″ – 11″ rise.

#4. AGOLDE Parker Distressed Denim Shorts // I debated including these, because I do like them, and I have worn them a few times. But I definitely didn’t get a low enough cost per wear to justify the purchase, and I’m probably not going to keep them for next season. I have just come to the conclusion that I’m done with the 3″ inseam. That, along with the intense distressing, and I feel these are crossing over into try-hard territory. It’s totally a gut-check decision. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, when two years ago, I would have felt perfectly comfortable in these shorts. But I’m on the brink of turning 50, and my legs aren’t as toned as they used to be, and I just feel a lot more comfortable in shorts with a 4″ or 5″ inseam these days.

I always say that these type of decisions are not about age, but about personal style and comfort level, and I stand by that. There may be women out there in their 50s and 60s wearing these and feeling great in them, and that’s awesome. But for me, I’m just not feeling it anymore.

Incidentally, I also just passed on the Hudson Gemmas (pictured above with the Canyon tie dye tank) for the same reason. While they don’t have such intense distressing, the last time I wore them, I felt self-conscious about the length, and that’s when I decided it was time to say good-bye to my 3″ inseams. So I guess that means, they’re #5!

#5. Hudson Gemma Shorts // Again, I really like these shorts, but I don’t feel comfortable in them, so I didn’t wear these very much. Maybe if I’d sized up, I would keep them for another season, but not only are they quite short, they have a way of riding up in unfortunate places… as denim shorts are wont to do when you buy your regular size. The problem is, when I size up, the leg opening is wider and looks dumpy on me because I have wide hips and thin legs. This is why you see me wearing jeans or utility joggers so often in my daily outfits. I just don’t find shorts very comfortable, so I opt for pants or jeans on all but the hottest of days.

So that’s that! Again, please don’t feel offended if you bought any of these items on my recommendations. I truly like each one. They just didn’t work out for me.

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56 Responses

  1. Appreciate the honesty of “things that did not work out”. Inspiring to go through and donate at end of season. Ps…I have been leaving my 3” shorts behind also. Thanks!

  2. Jo-Lynne,
    I had to laugh at “flat bony feet” because that’s exactly what I have and have trouble finding shoes that stay on without a heel in them or strap in the back. Thank God for small problems, but it was funny.

    1. Yes, small problems indeed. But still, very annoying! 🙂 My podiatrist says it is also why I have so many foot problems. They just don’t have enough padding to protect them.

  3. UGH! I can’t seem to get on board with the wide leg jeans. I know they are in style but the look is dumpy to me and since I am pear shaped I feel like I can’t pull it off. I am the same size as you but slightly shorter legs so I feel like skinny’s elongate my legs more. What’s funny is back in the day I had a hard time with the skinny’s. HA HA

    1. Oh, yes! We all did. I remember agonizing over trying them, and then trying to convince other ladies to try them… and now none of us want to give them up. Fashion is a funny thing.

    2. I completely agree! I don’t even think those “mom jean” styles look good on the models. Hard pass for me.

  4. I just love the post– I just returned a pair of sandals that i LOVED but would not stay on my feet. And even knowing I couldn’t really wear them, I debated on returning lol. We are all alike aren’t we? You are fun to follow.

  5. You have nice legs and look GREAT in those shorts. I am turning 60 in November and I’m still rocking the 3″ shorts. Enjoyed reading your list of things that did not work out. Have a great weekend!

  6. I bought the Treasure and Bond grey twist T Shirt when I saw it on you. I have worn it so much. I also have a yellow denim jacket so I copy that look, or white or blue denim jacket with various jeans. I’m small up top and sometimes a scoop or V neck is too low unless petite. However this is not a petite and is not too low. Very soft and the twist is a nice detail.

  7. If it’s any consolation, you have fabulous legs! But I definitely understand what you’re saying about being comfortable. (And I think it helps to make these types of decisions when we look at ourselves from the rear view) lol I see so many women in those “running” shorts…the ones with virtually zero inseam ha ha and let’s just hope they don’t bend over! Yikes! Make it a great one! 🙂

    1. Yes, it is the rear view that is the issue. 🙂 And I will admit that there is some skin-smoothing photoshop action going on in these photos. But beyond that, it’s just a gut feeling. Also, I don’t hang out with anyone who wears shorts this short. I was actually wearing the Hudson Gemma a week or so ago, and I was tugging at them, and I made a comment that I might be done with short shorts, and Becca piped up and said, “Yeah, none of the other moms wear shorts that short.” It wasn’t a judgement, just an observation, but it confirmed my gut instinct. That is the day I put them in the donation pile, lol!

  8. I do think that all of us should stay true to ourselves and wear clothes that we feel comfortable and confident in, no matter our age. I haven’t reached for any of my shorts this summer due to ugly veins near both knees that I am very self conscious about. I should consult with a vein clinic to see about having something done to them. I do enjoy this type of post from you! Years ago we went to a benefit outdoor concert in Albany, GA, which we enjoyed. However, the heat and humidity just about did us in. Whatever y’all end up doing, I hope you have a nice time. Have a great day!

    1. I know someone who had her veins done, and she was so glad she did, but they do have a way of coming back… or creating new ones, rather. It’s an uphill battle, this aging process, isn’t it!?

  9. Haha. I was sooo excited to open this email and discover your best & worst. Got myself a cup of coffee and dove in. This go-round I have a couple of the best and none of the worst. Go me 👍 Everything is cute but sometimes our real life doesn’t equate to what we anticipated, particularly during these unusual times. As always, your candor is appreciated – and enjoyed. Great job. Good luck to Caroline (and you) as she begins this new journey.

    1. You are right about life not always being what we anticipate! Wow, crazy year… going on a crazy 2 years. I still maintain, this too shall pass, but I sure didn’t expect it to go on this long.

  10. These are some of my favorite blog posts, because it makes me feel better about the mistakes I still make and want to beat myself up over. It’s funny that it seems the items I buy from Loft are often favorites, and the ones I spent the least money on. I am trying to be more honest with myself when I see something on you or another blogger. You might look great in something, but I am petite and know I can’t pull some things off, like your Mother jeans you wear so much. Sometimes it’s a color, like oatmeal that washes me out. I know it’s best to keep tags on and wear inside only before making a decision on some things. I have learned that jeans NEED to be a little snug, because most stretch with wear. Some jeans, like Agolde, are always going to be too tight in the waist and never stretch enough to be comfortable. You are right that every body is different and everyone has different tastes in some things. But this post helps me to see how much there is to consider. I quit wearing shorter shorts out several years ago, but I look much better in Bermuda style, which some people can’t pull off. It’s so individual. Thanks for letting us know your favorites, and what didn’t work out.

    1. Yes, jeans are such an individual thing. And with LOFT, it’s funny. So much of their stuff seems disposable, but every once in a while, I find a gem and wear it for years.

  11. These posts are so helpful to me because it’s fuel for me to think thru my own purchases and why I might not be getting much use out of something. Interesting about the Parker shorts: I was seeing them everywhere, all over IG, but I was reluctant to pull the trigger because of the price point, plus I know I won’t wear the short inseams anymore for the same reasons as you. I purchased several similar pairs at much lower price points, but finally broke down and snagged the Parkers in the longer 5″-ish inseam. There’s just something about the fit that none of the others come close to, AND they’re quite comfortable– I’ve worn the heck outta them! In this case, I feel like I wasted money on all those under $30 shorts when I could have solved my problem with one pricey purchase. But sometimes we have to find out the hard way, and clothing is a bit of a gamble.

  12. I get the change in what you’re comfortable wearing. I remember in my 30s hearing someone older say that it was in her late 40s that she realized she wasn’t young anymore. I also remember dreading it and thinking “oh no, that’s going to be bad!” I turned 48 last month so I’m there. But it’s fine, and it’s great! I wouldn’t go back. You look great in short shorts, but I totally understand that feeling of not wanting to look like you’re trying too hard!

    1. Yes, I also remember a friend saying that at 50, you start second guessing everything. Things start fitting differently too, and I”m already feeling that. Even though my weight is the same, my midsection and thighs certainly are not. 🙂 But I also can say, I wouldn’t go back! I just need to figure out how to dress the current me.

  13. I am totally in love with the Dolce Vita Izabel Slides BUT they will not stay on my feet when I walk. I am keeping them for this summer and will reevaluate next summer….maybe they will magically “resize” by next summer 🙂
    I fully agree with “cleaning” out the closet with anything that does not make you feel wonderful when you wear them. If you are comfortable and confident in your clothes you will be better able to deal with what life throws at you. I did a closet clean out for the spring/summer season and donated an SUV load full. I am going to do a fall/winter clean out when it gets closer to time. I felt so much more organized and better about my spring/summer closet. And I only bought what I absolutely loved. Everything else was returned…and that felt great as well. I know my fall/winter clean out will make me feel great too, The one that will hurt is my mountain of scarves and outdated boots. I will keep a few scarves, but my boots have got to go. (they are bad) I will then go on the hunt for a few gorgeous ones.

  14. I have flat bony feet too! So sandals can be a challenge. I recently went thru all of my clothes, trying on EVERYTHING, and made a nice donation pile that I am dropping off today.

    Also, I only realized this year that for me, a 5″ inseam in shorts is best for me as well. At 54, I am more comfortable with more leg being covered! Also, in recent years I am more interested in dresses. Knee length is great for my 5’4″ body.

    I enjoy your posts!

  15. Loved the post, I also ordered the Calson twist neck tee in gray in my usual small but it was too big on me and Northstroms has been sold out in the extra small. Can you share a link to the gray tee you have in your #4 on this page today, that also looks like a good one> Thanks so much!

  16. Jo-Lynn,
    I so appreciate your technical and almost analytical approach to clothes! I am learning so much from you. This post is so encouraging to me because if an “expert” like you occasionally has a dud purchase, then perhaps there’s still hope for me!😊

  17. I only wear sandals that I can attach firmly to my feet, but Extra Petite has a thing in her Instagram stories about using strips of stick-on padding to make slides fit better. Could be an option if the main problem with the slides is that they are too loose.

  18. Totally get you giving up the 3” inseam Jolynne. But just for the record, your legs still look great, all that running certainly pays off!

  19. I really loved this post. TY for your hindsight! About going to a concert or a air conditioned restaurant – You’ll know when you’re really old because you’ll need a lined jacket to attend the concert.

  20. Even thought you didn’t love some of the outfits, I loved them all – especially the red top in #1 and outfit #3. I agree I don’t care for those brown slides.

  21. Love this post! Hilarious that you said you made a business out of overthinking. I LOVE your overthinking and details that you share. Sometimes when I read another blog I find myself asking….but what about…..how come…..how does it compare? The details are one of the best parts of your blog and help us make purchasing decisions that are right for us! Keep on doing what you are doing. It is great!

    1. I completely agree! I recently unfollowed a blogger BECAUSE she would throw up a “cute top,” but would never say why she liked it, what it’s best QUALITIES were or what it compared to. I know it takes a lot of time to break it all down, but if you don’t, you are just listing things to link to your COMMISSION account. People need to know the details!!

  22. Hi Jo-Lynne, I just loved today’s post. Your attention to detail honesty and humor is what makes your blog so special. As for the 3 inch inseam, I think you just have to trust how you feel. Your legs are gorgeous, but if you feel uncomfortable it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Personally, at almost 52, I’ve kept my one pair of 3 inch distressed shorts to wear on the beach when I visit family in So Cal. It fits the vibe, and I think my toned legs are one of my better features. Honestly, I’m more comfortable in cut offs and a tank top at the beach these days than a swim suit! But when I’m back in the Bay Area, I wear a 5 inch inseam, or something other than shorts!

  23. Such an awesome post!! I always feel bad about the money I “wasted” when I buy clothes, then don’t wear often. I feel better when I pass them on to family and friends. But I love these comments about shorts, a lot depends on where you wear them. I also have several “beachy” shorts that are loose, destressed and short that I wear at the beach only! As for your outdoor concert tonight, my husband and I were at TWO sporting events yesterday in the sweltering heat/humidity and I really struggled even though I drank a ton of water. Our bodies just handle dangerous heat differently as we age. BUT, at the Phillies baseball game, the Hooters actually played “Take me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning! Be sure to stay hydrated, but you know that! Maybe there will be a cool breeze!!

    1. That’s cool that you heard them last night! Yes, hydration is key. But then you have to find a porta potty…. I really do think I’m getting too old for this. I’m going, but only out of love for my husband. I would really rather stay here and order pizza. LOL!

  24. Fun post, thank you. And you didn’t mention the floral loft top but it turned out to be one of my favorites this summer. I wear it to work with dark jeans and on the weekends with shorts. I think the colors will work into fall with a cardigan or jacket. Thanks to you I really have enjoyed wearing it.

  25. Love this post! I hate when I buy something thinking it will be a hit but end up not wearing it! I’ve learned to keep tags on and check the receipt for return deadlines! I’ve returned a few things this season and a couple items I’m going to keep in case I wear them next year if not give aways they are 😉I find if I purchase more timeless pieces than trendy I can keep them for another year as well! Didn’t wear jeans much this summer and right now we’re in a heat wave feeling like 100 +!with the humidity!

  26. I feel the same way about the shorts. I have 3 pair of the Agolde Parker shorts. I like them, but at almost 50 years old, I don’t feel comfortable in them. I also have a hard time achieving the correct vertical balance with these shorts (it’s always a 50/50 ratio instead of a 1/3 to 2/3) so I think it throws the look off. They only way I have found to achieve the correct balance is to wear a billowy long sleeve boho top, which unfortunately, looks sloppy with my curvy figure. With that said, I’m not sure its the just 3″ inseam. I can’t figure out how to get 4-5″ inseams to look good either.

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